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Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists

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Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists Overview

For hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists, employment is expected to increase faster than the average. For people in this profession, some sort of licensing is required although it differs by state. Forty four percent of hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists are self-employed while others work flexible schedules.

Nature of the Work for Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists

Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists

Hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists help provide hair care services for those looking to boost their appearance. They offer a wide array of services such as styling, cutting, trimming, and coloring hair. Cosmetologists may also be trained in how to give manicures, pedicures and other treatments for the face and scalp. Cosmetologists can also help clean and style wigs as well as provide makeup analysis. Hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists can also give clients advice on how to take care of their hair when they are home.

For regular clients, cosmetologists may keep records of hair color and skin regimen routines on file. They can also sell hair, skin, and nail products. If cosmetologists own their own salons, they can perform managerial duties such as the hiring and firing of staff members as well as ordering supplies, inventory, and advertising.

A cosmetologist will typically put in a 40 hour workweek. For those who are self-employed and can determine their own schedules, the hours may be longer. The workweek can also include evenings and weekends, a time when salons are at their busiest.

Twenty nine percent of hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists work part time while 14 percent have flexible schedules.

The work environment for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists is usually clean, brightly lit and ventilated. Though some hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists work in hotels and spas, most work in barbershops or salons.

Important qualities such as good stamina and health are necessary due to long periods of standing. Hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists can become exposed to chemicals from skin and hair so they are advised to wear aprons or gloves if need be.

Training, Other Qualifications and Advancement for Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists

Cosmetologists and other personal appearance workers must obtain a license from a state-licensed cosmetology school. In order to qualify for a license, one must have a high school diploma, be at least 16 years old, and have graduated from a state-licensed cosmetology school. Before graduating, students take a written test or sometimes a practical or oral examination.

Cosmetologists who enter a full time program will usually be in school for 9 months or longer, which may lead to an associates degree. Many professionals, such as hairdressers and hairstylists, tend to take advanced courses in hairstyling as well as sales and marketing to keep up with certain trends.

For some states, obtaining a cosmetology license can be credited towards a barbering license, and vice versa. Periodic license renewals are necessary and certain fees to take the test are implemented.

Uncommon agreements, such as reciprocity agreements, are allowed in some states allowing cosmetologists to obtain a license in a different state without additional training. Cosmetologists as well as hairdressers and hairstylists should review state laws before entering a program.

Other important aspects of a cosmetologist's job include: keeping a neat personal appearance, maintaining a clean workspace, and having good interpersonal skills especially concerning the manner in which he or she speaks with his or her clients. “People skills” are deemed so valuable that some cosmetology schools require course completion in this area. Image and attitude are important for a hairdresser, hairstylist or cosmetologist as is an understanding of fashion and art.

Hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists with a lot of experience and steady clientele can make a larger income. Advancements in a hairdresser, hairstylist or cosmetologist’s career might be by managing a salon, leasing a booth in a salon, or even owning a salon. Some hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologist go on to teach at schools as well as become sales representatives due to their knowledge of sales and marketing.

Top 10 Most Popular Cosmetology & Beauty Schools

1. Instituto de Banca y Comercio, San Juan (San Juan, Puerto Rico)
2. Advance Beauty College (Garden Grove, California)
3. D'Mart Institute (Barranquitas, Puerto Rico)
4. Beauty Schools of America, Miami (Miami, Florida)
5. Make-up Designory (Burbank, California)
6. Asian American International Beauty College (Westminster, California)
7. Aveda Institute, Minneapolis (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
8. Michigan College of Beauty, Troy (Troy, Michigan)
9. Catherine Hinds Institute of Esthetics (Woburn, Massachusetts)
10. Manhattan Hairstyling Academy (Tampa, Florida)

See All Cosmetology & Beauty Schools

Employment and Job Outlook for Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists

Number of People in Profession

349,210

Changing Employment (2008-2018)

Employment is projected to grow much faster than average (increase 20% or more).

Hairdressers,hairstylists and cosmetologists hold about 349,210 jobs.

Many cosmetologists are employed in establishments such as beauty salons, nail spas, and resort spas. Some are also employed by nursing or residential care homes. Even though the most populous cities have the most beauty salons, nearly every city in the States has a beauty salon.

Many hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists are self-employed, own their own salon, or rent a booth or space from a salon. When hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists do so, they must provide their own supplies as well as pay taxes and benefits.

For hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists renting space in a salon, a weekly or monthly fee might need to be paid to the salon.

Employment for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists is set to increase faster than the average, at around 20 percent faster than other occupations. With this increase, more entry-level jobs will become available even though stiff competition will likely remain when applying to high-end establishments for employment.

Due to a population increase, more people will be looking for basic hair care services, such as hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists. Special services such as hair coloring and hair treatments have also grown popular, especially with baby boomers and younger people.

The growth of full-service spas and salons will also mean more available jobs for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists. For cosmetologists, employment growth is expected to increase 38 percent due to these changes.

For hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists who are licensed and looking for entry-level work, there will be many opportunities considering many professionals retire, leave the salon, or even leave the industry.

For hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists looking to work at higher paying salons, there is more competition to work there than to work at an entry-level position.

Earnings and Salary for Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists

Median hourly wages for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists, including tips and commission, are $11.21. The middle 50 percent earn between $8.79 and $15.12. The lowest 10 percent earn less than $7.68, and the highest 10 percent earn more than $20.79.

For hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists, earnings depend on whether they are on salary or commission as well as if they are entry-level or experienced. Some salons even pay bonuses to hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists who bring in a lot of business. Attracting clients and holding on to those clients can affect earning potential as well.

Hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists who choose to become self-employed will tend to miss out on benefits and paid vacations.

Some hairdressers, hairstylist, and cosmetologists do receive products from manufacturers in hopes that they will convince their clients to use the product.

Annual Salary for Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists

On average, Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists earn $23,330 per year.

10% 25% 75% 90% $15,980/yr $18,290/yr $31,460/yr $43,250/yr

Hourly Wage for Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists

On average, Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists earn $11.21 per hour.

10% 25% 75% 90% $7.68 $8.79 $15.12 $20.79

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook